First he established himself as an un-droppable aspect of a Manchester City side teeming with superstars, now James Milner has set about becoming a master of mind games.
The west Yorkshire warhorse has declared that the pressure on pace-setting Chelsea to keep winning could work in the Citizens’ favour.
“You’re never going to go throughout the whole season playing well, you have ups and downs, but it’s all about how you get through that.” Milner said, who also stated that the heat on the Blues could “play into our hands”.
Jose Mourinho’s men currently sit at the Premier League’s summit, six points clear of reigning champions Manchester City and 9/25 favourites for the title.
Those in agreement with Milner that Chelsea will succumb to the pressure will preach of the dangers that come with backing such a flimsy price at this stage of the campaign and point punters in the direction of the Sky Blues’ beefy 7/2 to retain their crown.
After all, City were six points short of Arsenal at this stage last season, while an identical margin separated them from the top of the pile with as few as four matches remaining.
Well acquainted with overcoming adversity to reign supreme, last season’s form suggests that the Citizens have the minerals to capitalise whenever Chelsea spill points.
Looking at how the previous campaign played out also provides some clues as to how the west Londoners will fare.
After beating both City and runners up Liverpool home and away, the Blues should’ve cruised to the title, but a late-season bottle job allowed Manuel Pellegrini’s men to claim the laurels.
Inexplicable defeats to Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Sunderland in the final months cost Chelsea and, should they repeat these antics as Milner predicts, Man City will be on hand again.